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Research topics in the time of Covid-19, Part 1

It’s that time of year again when I usually write about research topics. I am tempted to share the updated research agenda our group prepared for our students at UP but perhaps a quick list would do for now. I guess the most relevant topics are those related to the Covid-19 pandemic including those about transport during the lockdown and post-ECQ. Here are some initial ideas about such relevant topics to take on:

  • Public transport supply and demand, operations – there are many topics that can be developed under this including those relating supply and demand. For example, it would be interesting to have a research assessing the supply of public transport modes with respect to the demand from the lockdown (ECQ to MECQ) to its easing (GCQ to MGCQ). Included here would be topics tackling the attempts at rationalizing transport routes (e.g., the introduction of bus services where there was none before, the continuing restriction for conventional/traditional jeepneys, etc.). For those into transport economics and finance and even policy, perhaps the service contracting scheme can be studied further and its different aspects meticulously and objectively examined. What are its limitations? What are the critical assumptions that need to be realized for it to be most effective and not abused or mismanaged?
  • Traffic engineering and management – there were suddenly many issues pertaining to this during the lockdowns. Among these were traffic management in the vicinity of checkpoints where queuing theory among other principles could have been applied in order to reduce congestion.
  • Active transportation – the DPWH already came out with guidelines for bike lanes along national roads. These will surely be used as reference by local government units (LGU) as they are obliged by a DILG memo to develop facilities for active transportation. Active transport here refers mainly to walking and cycling but in other cases have come to include the use of personal mobility devices (PMD). Much research is to be done for designs, users’ preferences, behavior in traffic, safety and other topics such as those relating active transport with public transport (e.g., as a last mile/kilometer mode for most people).
  • Level of service (LOS) – I had a nice, brief exchange about LOS and the notion that it is outdated. I believe it is not and many who parrot the notion lacks a deeper understanding not just of LOS but the principles, assumptions and data that goes into transportation and traffic analysis. Perhaps a multi-modal LOS criteria can be developed for the Philippines? If so, what parameters or measures can be used to describe our own LOS? What modes and facilities will be evaluated according to this? And how can solutions be developed with respect to such.

Of course, there are just so many of the traditional topics to take on. There will always be a backlog regarding these topics. In the sequel to this article, I will try to identify other topics for transportation research that can be considered as well as recall “old” topics that are still necessary regardless of the pandemic.

EASTS 2019 Conference

The 13th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS 2019) is currently underway. This conference is hosted by the domestic society of Sri Lanka from September 9-11, 2019. The conference was almost canceled or relocated due to the safety and security concerns following the bombings in Colombo last April. After assurances by the organisers plus the full support from government, the conference was decided to push through in Colombo.

Backdrop of the opening program

Delegates from the Philippines pose with EASTS President Prof. Tetsuo Yai and other friends from Japan

More information on the conference and others about the domestic society may be found on the EASTS homepage, which also has a link to the organizers’ website.

Professorial Chair Colloquium of UP’s Institute of Civil Engineering

We start the month of November with an announcement. This is for the Professorial Chair Colloquium of the Institute of Civil Engineering of the University of the Philippines Diliman, which will be held on November 16, 2018 (Friday). The sessions are open to the public and surely there will be interesting topics not just regarding transportation but on the other fields as well. Following are information on the lecture topics:

25th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines

The Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) will be holding its 25th Annual Conference in Cagayan De Oro City next week. Here is the program and you can get more details about the conference and the society from its homepage and Facebook page.

A compilation of studies on walkability in the Philippines

My students have been engaged in studies on walkability (and related topics) the past few years. These have been a mix of published and unpublished work that I have compiled at list below:

Unpublished works:

  • Capalar, M.A.M. and Garma, F.A.A. (2018) Assessment of Walkability Along Taft Avenue, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman
  • Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2017) Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
  • Cortez, E.H.D. and Razon, J.V.DV. (2017) Assessment of Walkability Along Katipunan Avenue, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.
  • Marcelo, K.R.S. and Salvador, J.P.B. (2015) Assessment of Pedestrian Facilities Along Marcos Highway, Unpublished Research Report, Institute of Civil Engineering, University of the Philippines, Diliman.

Published works:

• Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2018) “Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal,”  Philippines Transportation Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 60-80.

• Pajarin, J.B., Soriano, C.M. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2017) “Assessment of Mobility of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Cainta, Rizal,” Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines, Quezon City, July 21, 2017.

• Regidor, J.R.F., Marcelo, K.R.S. and Salvador, J.P.B. (2016) “Assessment of Pedestrian Facilities Along Marcos Highway,” Proceedings of the DPWH Research Symposium 2016, Quezon City, September 2016.


Here’s a paper based on a comprehensive study our centre conducted for the City of Olongapo in the Province of Zambales:

• Palmiano, H.S.O., Javier, S.F.D. and Regidor, J.R.F. (2015) “An Assessment of Walkability in a Medium-Sized Philippine City,” Proceedings of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 10, December 2015.

We hope to continue such studies with future advisees who perhaps can tackle other corridors or even areas. Among those on my Wishlist would be Espana Avenue, Ortigas Avenue, Intramuros, Recto Avenue, and even EDSA or Circumferential Road 5.

Topics for transportation research

I notice that I have been getting a lot of traffic on my site lately from people searching about research topics. I guess its that time of year when students (undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate) are looking for topics. I have written before that it seems to me that many schools don’t really provide much guidance to students in their topic selection for their undergraduate research, masters thesis and even doctoral dissertations. I have received and seen emails from students from other schools asking if I or one of my colleagues at the university can be their research advisers. We usually politely decline so as we also have our own students to advise and researches to undertake. While I believe we should encourage research on transportation topics, I would dare say that schools should be responsible enough to build capacity for their faculty to be able to effectively guide their students and not unfairly pass them on to others.

Here are some topics that I think are quite relevant at present:

  • Anything that’s about ride sharing (i.e., Uber, Grab, etc.) and particularly on passengers’ and drivers’ characteristics.
  • Carpooling as applied in offices, schools, communities. There’s an app that promotes this – Wunder.
  • Motorcycle taxis – this includes habal-habal, Skylab and other variations both in the urban and rural setting. What are their characteristics? Passengers? Drivers?
  • Complete streets – how can we apply its principles to our cities, towns, communities, even specific roads?
  • Road safety – this genre covers a lot of topics including pedestrian safety, motorcycle safety, public transport safety, child safety, driver behavior, safe road designs, etc.
  • Transportation costs/expenditures – characteristics of commuting and commuters in relation to the modes they take as well as the distances between their homes and workplaces or schools.

I believe there are a lot of topics that can be developed from the above. But perhaps schools can first formulate research agendas first and not attempt to snipe at every and all topics that come to mind.

Good luck on topic selection and here’s hoping your outcomes are useful to improve transport and traffic in the Philippines.

First call for papers for the TSSP 2017 conference

The first call for papers for the 24th Annual Conference of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines came out last Wednesday, Feb. 15: